In recognition of strangeness

To be strange is to have secrets.

I’m not talking about strangeness in its current application, which is mostly a cynical kind of market-segmentation. You’re not strange because you really love a particular show, or hate another. Strangeness does not flow from your affiliation with a name brand. Nor is it a product of your adherence to political beliefs that other people find distasteful, particularly if you’re just recapitulating the same oppressive bullshit that gives you the luxury to spout off your nonsense without repercussions. Strangeness exists at the margins where it would attract unwelcome attention. It belongs only to you and to the few people you know who accept it, because they love you more than they’re troubled by the strangeness.

I’m not advocating for secrecy, or saying strangeness should be hidden. I’m acknowledging that this is how we generally deal with it, through concealment and camouflage. Being strange means knowing that if your neighbors knew about the real you, they wouldn’t be so nice on the stairs, or worse. Much, much worse.

If I were you, at this point, I’d be asking “Who the fuck are you, the Strange Police?” So, before we go any further, the Strange Police is a hell of a premise for a book, and I’ve got dibs on it, so back off. But also, good question. Who am I to call out strangeness if I don’t have some practical experience in it? Am I strange? In some way liminal? The packaging doesn’t say much. In answer I could say yes, or no, or none of your fucking business. Figure it out, or don’t.

The problem with strangeness is that it isn’t going to fit in. No matter what the marketing machine tells you about wacky alternatives, no matter how your Twitter friends embrace life options that are comfortably odd and palatably unconventional, strangeness is Strange. If you’re strange, your passage through society depends on your ability to keep a secret.

Some of those secrets are pretty fucked up. I’m not endorsing or romanticizing them. Some of you need help. But some of you are living meaningfully outside our collective comfort zones, keeping your strangeness quiet with those who will never get it, while embracing the ones who offer understanding in subterranean spaces. It might be tough to figure out which group you’re part of - the damaged strange or the resolute strange, the wrong or the hidden righteous. I can’t help you. But I recognize you. I hope you find each other, and I hope that in some immeasurable way, the meeting makes the world better.